Beacon Trancript – The dinosaur family acquired a new member after a so-called mud dragon specimen was unexpectedly and quite accidentally discovered in the south of China.
The mud dragon specimen, which belongs to a species whose existence was unknown, was found after workers in Ganzhou, an area in the south of China, were busy with constructing a school and juts narrowly missed blowing up the dinosaur.
One of the researchers to study the unexpected fossil is the University of Edinburgh’s Steve Brusatte stated that although the dinosaur had an unhappy fate, the location which contained its remnants featured prime conservation properties.
The mud dragon fossil was studied by a collaborating team formed from China’s Dongyang Museum, the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, and the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Geology.
The study, which was named “A Late Cretaceous diversification of Asian oviraptorid dinosaurs: evidence from a new species preserved in an unusual posture.” was released in the Scientific Reports journal.
Scientists decided that the new species should be called Tongtianlong limosus or Mud Dragon as its official title can be translated as meaning “the muddy dragon on the road to Heaven”.
The mud dragon was categorized as being part of the oviraptorosaurs family of dinosaurs, which were a somewhat odd class of their own.
Most of the specimens and subtypes to have been classified under the name are believed to have been feathered dinosaurs.
One of the subtypes of oviraptorosaurs, the theropods, are considered to be our modern birds’ ancestors because of the common features found between the two species.
Oviraptorosaurs were of different sizes as they are believed to have ranged from 1 feet to 25 feet specimens and were mostly characterized by the sharp beaks and also their short toothless heads.
Similar to the new discovery, some subtypes of the family also presented crests of bone placed on their heads.
The study suggests that, as is the case with modern cocks, the respective bone formation were used in order to intimidate their rivals and to probably attract possible mates with their display structures.
The mud dragon, its newest family member, was discovered in the same mud which is thought to have captured it and led to its death.
The animal was determined to have been lying on the front of its body, with its neck and wings outstretched as if trying to escape.
Although the Tongtianlong limosus had wings and was also classified as another of our bird’s ancestors, it also could not fly.
Another of the scientists involved with the study, the Chinese’s Academy of Geological Sciences Junchang Lu, declared that the current mud dragon specimen will help gather useful data in regards the members of the oviraptorid family of dinosaurs.
The unusual species’ behavior, evolution and also distribution will be studied so as to better understand one of the last thriving dinosaur species before the total disappearance of the animals.
Image source: Wikimedia